BILLINGS — The Billings Education Foundation is experiencing increased use of the 100 percent community-funded Back Pack Meals Program after the COVID-19 pandemic and needs more support, Foundation Executive Director Krista Hertz told Q2 over the phone.
The program has been around for 10 years and normally sends two meals of breakfast and lunch home with kids who need them over the weekend, Hertz said.
The back pack program has seen demand nearly triple, jumping from the average 325 meals per week to between 650-800 after the schools shut down, Hertz said.
The education foundation has been working with the school district's food service provider Sedexo to give out back pack meals at current school meal distribution sites. The foundation has also been working to get meals to the schools' homeless kids through the district's homeless education liaison, Hertz said.
Over the Easter holiday, backpack meals will still be provided to kids who need them. Starting Wednesday, Hertz said Sedexho is covering meals for April 9, 10 and 13. The foundation is covering April 11 and 12.
Meals over the Easter weekend can be picked up at the current meal distribution sites.
An increase in meals means an increase in financial strain on the back pack program. Hertz said whenever school is back in session and in the next school year the back pack program will continue. It just needs the support of the community to do so.
Hertz said the expects a rise in the use of the program in the next school year, because people in the restaurant industry may still be getting back on their feet.
To help, you can donate via the Billings Education Foundation's web site by clicking here.
Checks can also be mailed to the foundation at 415 N. 30th. St., Billings, MT 59101. Make checks payable to "education foundation" and write "back pack program" in the memo line.